Astronomy Binoculars or a Telescope? Which Should I Buy First?

Binoculars or a Telescope? Which Should I Buy First?

Olympus 8x40 DPSI              91% in Sky at Night Review

When you think of an astronomer it tends to conjure up the image of a person with a telescope. The desire to purchase a telescope and open up the full glory of the heavens and its wonders is strong at first. But maybe you should consider purchasing binoculars first. Here’s why.


Good astronomy binoculars will allow you to see the craters on the moon, the moons around Jupiter and even make out some galaxies (such as M81 and M82 in the constellation Ursa Major). They should have a good field of view to allow you to see the constellations and surf along the stars of the Milky Way. Unlike many telescopes that invert the image of the night sky, binoculars are orientated in the same way as you actually see the sky, which helps to find objects of interest. Because if you know the object is down and left from a star you simply point the binoculars down and left. With a telescope you need to remember that left is right and up is down. So, put a reclining chair in your backyard, lay back and enjoy discovering the night sky.

Binoculars for astronomy should be lightweight and have an adapter to fit them to a tripod. This is because one of the problems with binoculars is that if they are too heavy then you will start to shake when holding them up to the sky for any length of time. This is made worse by having binoculars with a higher magnification as the shaking is magnified too. A good, versatile pair of binoculars would normally have about a magnification of 7-10 times and lens aperture of about 35-50 mm (abbreviated as 10x50 for 10x magnification and 50mm aperture). Here you can find a link to Amazon for beginner’s binoculars that were highly commended in a Sky at Night group test. Or you can read the review of the Olympus 8x40 DPSI binoculars here.

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Back to Beginners guide to Astronomy

Or next:

Part 1. Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy

Part 2. Binoculars or a telescope, which should I buy first?

Part 3. 5 Things you Need to Know Before Buying a Beginner's Astronomy Telescope

Part 4. Goto or Not Goto? That is the Question

Part 5. How to Set-up an Astronomy Telescope

Part 6. 8 Tips for Making Your Goto Telescope More Accurate

Part 7. 10 Easy Astronomical Objects to see From the City

Part 8. 5 Things to do on a Cloudy Night

Part 9. Which Eyepieces Do I Need?

Part 10. 10 Useful Astronomy Accessories

Part 11: How Can I See Deep Space Objects Better?

Part 12: How Can I See More Detail On Planets?

Part 13: How to Dress for Astronomical Success

Extras: Beginner Astronomy Telescopes

Or Start reading the Learn Astronomy Blog

Or Start Finding Deep Space Objects with the Constellation and DSO Guide.

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